tv Charlie Rose PBS August 12, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
>> rose: welcome to our program. in these difficult ds of intense debate and hard choices, much has been written and said about president obama's leadership. three who have done that are drew westen writing in the "new york times," jonathan chait, writing in "the new republic," and fareed zakaria, wring in "time" magazine. >> that kind of rhetoric, you know, may help the president in his reelection efforts looking like he's the grown-up who's above the fr. but, in fact, what he's just done is actually to take one more shot at his ow party, which is trying to be incredibly conciliatory along with him and they're getting pretty tired of what the.. what a lot of them feel is one capitulation after another on core principles. >> if you wanted to measure the
ways in which his communications message is somehow helping or harming him, i think you have to compare it to where he ought to be, given the fundamentals of the country. and the fact is, there's almost no examples on record of a president in an economy that's contracting who maintains his popurity. given the situation with the economy, obama is strikingly popular. >> he's not relishing the fight, the going out and doing battle for his ideas, whatever those ideas may be. take, for example, the national frastructure bank, which i thinis a great idea, a very smart, sensible idea. there's a way to romanticize it by talking about rebuilding infrastructure. now, oba has done it, but somehow he... he doesn't, you know... it's not quite henry v leading the country. >> rose: we conclude this evening, appropriately, by exploring shakespeare with the artistic director of the royal shakespeare company, michael boyd. >> i think the reason shakespeare's alive is because at the heart of his d.n.a. is to be or not to be.
and i don't mean about mortality i mean about the opposition of one idea and another. >> rose: presidential leadership and the world's greatest chronicler of pow coming up. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following: every story needs a hero we can all root for. who beats the odds and comes out on top. but this isn't just a hollywood storyline. it's happening every day, all across america. every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business.
additional funding provided by these funders: captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: much has been said this week of president obama, his leadership and where he stands going into the 2012 election. the president spoke today at a manufacturing plant in michigan. he addressed the u.s. econo and the recent s&p downgrade. >> this downgrade you're reading about could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness to compromise in congress. (applause) see, it didn't happen because we
don't have the capacity to pay our bills. it happened because washington doesn't have the capacity to come together and get things done. it was a self-inflicted wound. (applause) there is nothing wrong with our country. there is something wrong with our politics. (cheers and applause) >> rose: joining me from boston is drew westen, a professor of psychology at emory unirsity, he wrote an article in the "new york times" magazine called "what happened to obama?" it has sparked an interesting dialogue about the president's leadership. it's been refenced by many columnist in this is week. two of them join me now. from washington, d.c., jonathan chait, a senior editor the new republic. with me in new york, our friend fareed zakaria of "time" magazine and g.p.s. on cnn. i am pleased to have all of them on this program. if you do what i do, this is a perfect storm. first you have somebody write something, then you have someone respond to it, and then yo have someone come along in "time" magazine and talk about all of
them. so i begin with you, drew. make the case that you made as to why you are disappointed wi the leadership of president obamand the significance you believe of narrative. >> i guess i'll start by saying just from that clip that you just played, which i hadn't heard before but i think it's a prime example is that the president blamed the problem on congress. he didn't say... and he blamed the problem on the lack of quote/unquote coress to be able to negotiate in good faith and to compromise. the problem is actually isn't the problem in congress, it's the problem that one side of congress is actually not willing to negotiate and the other side was willing to negotiate away most of its core principles. so that kind of rhetoric may help the president in his reelection efforts, looking like he's the grown-up who's above e fray, but in fact what he's just done is actual take-to-take one more shot at his own party which is trying to be incredibly consigliertory
along with him and they're getting pretty tired of a lot of them feel is one capitulation after another on core principles. >> rose: and you want them to do what? >> i want them to act like a democrat. no, i take that back. i'd like them to act like a republican, which is to have some convictions and stick with it. stick with them. i say that jokingly, but, y know, democrats are usually not the ones who are willing to say... you know, there's this... there's a bunch of banks that have done some ptty bad things to that caused our economy to fail, let's bail out those banks but, you know, those homeowners that are getting foreclosed on, when we get around to it we'll see if we can get a program running for them and we're not going to pay much attention to that. that's the kind of thing that he could have done and that many people believe that he should have done and i certainly am among them.
starting from his first days of office to essentially say to the american people, look, i know you're hurting, i know you're scared, i know you're angry. remember where we were in 2009 when he gave his inaugural address. we were losing 750,000 jobs per month. the dow had dropped from over 14 to 6... over 14,000 to 6,600. the entire economy had come to a stand still and if he'd simply said to the american people "look, this is how... i know you're feeling this way, this was not a natural disaster, this was not an act of god, this was a disaster caused by men. it was caused by greedy men on wall street who made a bunch of decisions that affected your lives, that are taking away your jobs, are taking away your homes." >> rose: fareed quote you in "time" magazine just out today. "i have no idea what barack obama believes on virtually any
issu." the interesting thing about you also is you found fault with his inaugural speech. so this is not few for you. jonathan, you have been critical of the president but you look at what drew has just said and you say "what?" >> right. well, it's a drat i can overestimation of the power of rhetoric to affect policies in congress and to affect public opinion. there's not a lot of evidence that it has that kind of effect, anything like the effect that he says. he brought up franklin rooz sflelt his "time"s piece. roosevelt being the counterexample to obama as the person who told the storto the public and got them to believe it. but the evidence shows the public never bought the idea that using stimulus to put people to work is an appropriate use of government resources. now, roosevelt won anyway. he had a rising economy, he had the votes in congress. but what that shows is that those rethe things that actually affect political outcomes. >> rose: sofa reed comes along, he's got to write a comn. this is put in his hands because he not only can quote the two of
you, he can quote bart giamatti, not bad, and supreme court... i mean constitutional wyer named alexander bickell who i studied in law sool. so you praed both of this and you make what point? >> well, i think that the way i lookt it isonathan is entirely right but he doesn't go far enough for my purposes. this is as jonathan says in a very brilliant blog post, this is the version of the american presidency you get from aaron sorkin in "the american president." the president gets up, makes this incredibly moving speech which is, of course, deeply liberal, the entire country cheers and all of a sudden all the problems that are... that he encounters are wed aside. you remember ithe movie it was gun control and environmentalism. now, the idea if barack obama were to give a speech on gun control, suddenly he would be able to wave aside the second amount and the settled convictions of a large percentage of americans is we would recognize nonsense. the reality is that obama is
working within a very constrained political environment, the country is split about 50-50. you have this phenomenon of the tea party that has energized the republican party and a good bit of the country. don't forget, 25% of the american public intifies with the tea party. so within that context, look at wh he's done. and i'm puzzled by drew westen's remarks. this is the guy who's passed the largest stimulus program in american history. he's passed universal health care, a democratic aspiration since harry truman. he's passed the largest overhaul and expansion of regulations on the financl sector. he has now been trying sperately to do more with regard to jobs. that's a pretty impressive package and i frankly put it up against, i don't know, bill clinton, jimmy carter, and i'm a little hard pressed to see what the great liberal betrayal has been other than from some kind of fantasy version of liberalism where the american... finally a democratic president comes in and america becomes, i don't
know, sweden. a, that's not what most americans want. b, that's certainly not where barack obama is politically. so why are we so surprised he's ended up being a someat left-of-center pragmatist? >> fareed, in all due respect, when you say this is what the american people wanted, actually, the american people want exactly opposite. the american people have said since day one of this administration we want jobs. they said in a cnn poll that just came out, they said by 2-1 deficits versus jobs, we care about jobs. that's what they were worried about from the start, i can tell you because i've studied public opinion, i've watched it very closely. the average american... the strongest thing you can say to them to get their juices up from right-of-center to left-of-center is something that's really close to their hearts which is i want to see the words "made in america" again. i want to see jobs back in this country. and that's the agendahatthe president could have and should have pushed and didn't.
>> look, these are two inaccuracies i saw in the original column. number one, oma did hold the line in the budget negotiations with the republicans. he said if you don't agree to increase revenue on wealthy americans, i will not agree to entitlement cuts. and that's precisely what happened and that's the line he's drawn in the subsequent negotiations and there's no reason to think he won't do it. now you can predict the future, but when you said that he gave in on this point, that's simply not true. second of all, americans do want jobs, but they don't see that as being in conflict with the goal of cutting the deficit in the short run. now, i think they're wrong. most economists think they're wrong. but moving public opinion as the roosevelt demonstration shows, is just not very easy. >> look, the american people, to be honest, they want jobs. they want the budget deficit cut. they by and large don't want much new taxes, many new taxes other than the very rich, they don't wanted me care cut, they want social security preserved, they don't want the interest
deduction on mortgages to be taken away but they wantany large cuts. yoknow, this is a conglomeration of incompatible desires. so you can't sit there and parse this... >> rose: but do they, for example, want those so-called rich to pay their fair share? >> but that doesn't get you enough money, as you know, charlie. the big money is in the big middle-class programs. to drew's point again, why is obama worried about this? well, you know what? we have a budget deficit that is 10% of g.d.p. it's the second-highest in the industrialized world. we have a gross national debt that will approach 100% in three or four years. so, you know, we're not in the 1930s whengovernment debt was minuscule in comparison. we can't just say let's spend $5 trillion jump starting the economy and see where that gets us. look at what's happening in europe. the frch are now having difficulty. the italians are having difficulty. these are major economies. so i don't think it is so outlandish and, you know, it does not show that obama has been captured by bankers that he is properly concerned that
there's some outer limit about how much you can spend and therefore a long-term deficit reduction plan is the right thing. again, to jonathan, you know, one of the points that's important to make here is obama has not agreed to savage cuts in the budget. he agreed to only $20 billion in 2012. all the cuts are back loaded. which, frankly, means that who knows whether they' even happen. in reality, the only cuts that are going to happen are $20 billion in 2012. that does not strike me as savage budget cutting right now. >> rose: you have written saying that the president is more prime minister than president. that he's too deeply involved in the weeds. so how would you assess him day on this bigger question of leadership and what we expect from the commander in chief? >> you know, charlie, on that front-- and this is now an issue of temperament, of leadership style-- i begin by saying i don't know how... >> rose: legislature versus executive. >> i agree with jonathan that one can exaggerate the importance of that. but i don't think he's great at
it. for one thing, he doesn't seem like he enjoys the job. he doesn't seem like he's relishing it. he's not relishing the fight, the going out and doing battle for his ideas. whatever those ideas may be. take, for example, a national infrastructure bank, which i think is a great idea, a very smart, sensible idea. there's a way to romanticize it by talking about rebuilding infrastructure. now, obama has done it, but somehow he... he doesn't... you know, it's not quite henry v leading the country and, in the end, i'm not quite sure... and i think i suppose drew will say that's precisely what i'm talking about. i agree, i just don't know that's as big a deal. but on that matter of style, you know jon stewart says he seems to begin every press conference these days with a sigh. and i think he does begin each day with a sigh. >> rose: on the leadership question, jonathan, how do you see it? >> i agree with fareed that obama's first two years were spectacularly productive and you could actually add a lot more to the list of his accomplishments. i don't necessarily agree with
his criticism of obama's style. i think obama's style could have been better but i think even fareed is dramatically overstating the importance of this. if you wanted to measure the ways in which his communications message is somehow helping or harming him, i think you have to compare it to where he ought to be given the fundamentals of the country. the fact is, there's almost no examples on record of a president in an economy that's contracting who maintains his popularity. given the situation in the economy, obama is strikingly popular. he's still maintaining in the mid-40s, which is really doing well considering the circumstances. you might mention roosevelt. roosevelt was popular when the economy was bouncing back very fast under the death of the depression. >> and, by the way, one of the reasons i think obama retains that popularity jonathan was talking about is because he does come across as somewhat pragmatic. he does come across as somebody who's not entirely in hock with thleft wing of the democratic party. i happen to think it's good
politics but i also think it where's he is fundamentally. >> the idea that he's been spectacularly successful. if you were to say that... i mean, fourp say that to the 25 million americans who are looking for work right now, if you were to say that to the erage american right now, the average working or middle-class american who has spent their lives basically understanding that if you work hard and play by the rules things will work out for you and that you'll have a shot at the american dream for your kids, tell name this has been a spectacularly successful presidency and they'll look at you like you fear from another planet. these are the peop i talk to evyday and they don't see this as a spectacularly successful presidency. it might be that, you know, that millions of americans are wrong. it might be that they should welcome a... welcome a... an agreement to cut our national debt that, in fact, does not in round one build in any kind of
increases on the amount of money that the wealthy will pay. >> rose: should the president have gone all out to pass health care? >> hindsight is always 50-50 and i don't professor to have all the answers. i do think the where the american people were when they began his presidency where they were terrified and they were terrified about the jobs numbers in particular. >> rose: your argument with respect to the debt limitation seems to be that he had no choice. >> i think he d no choice. it was a game o chicken where it was uneven. he actively gauge add in he would lose more than t tea party. the tea party could afford to be irresponsible, he couldn't. he's the president, he also is trying to get reelected and at the end of the day as jonathan points out the economy is the single-best predictor of how the president does. so from the tea party's point of view if you end up with 12% unemployment, barack obama probably loses and net-net that's good for them even if in the short run they look bad.
from his point ofiew, that's a disaster. so think head to be the more responsible party and he blinked first. t not, by the way, again, not as much as people think. the concessions are more limited than people realize. >> rose: there's also this question about him. the osama bin laden incident. did it in a sense give him with respect to leadership an impression that this was a president who is in charge, who is prepared to take risks who, in a sense, was acting in a w that americans would want their commander in dhef act. true? >> oh, absolutely. i thought that was a signal moment in his presidency and one th everyone from, again, from right to left had to laud him for and it's something his predecessor absolutely could not do. >> rose: so, jonathan, when you look at him over the... you look at the legislative achievements, where is it you find fault? >> i think the vast majority o the fault lies in congress.
they're autonomous actors. there's no magic rhetorical olympicser that can make members of congress do something they don't see in their political interest or don't agree ideologically. congress should have passed a much larger still throws begin with. the democrats in congress would have been much smarter to pass health care much more quickly and to take a shot at cap and trade while they still had a little chance of political capital at it. >> rose: one thing that got a lot of circulation was what would lyndon have done? that perhaps a man of different consequence and who understood the congress better, who was a bert negotiator, who understands the dynamic of that process would have been more effective than this president was. >> but, charlie, the big difference between lyndon johnson and barack obama is lyndon johnson had overwhelming majorities in both houses with a democratic party that was completely behind him. and, by the way, a whole bunch of liberal republicans who agreed with him on civil rights as well. >> and no filibuster. the filibuster was not
considered routine. >> the filibuster was used in the 1960s and '70s once a decade. that's including the vietnam war including civil rights. 80% of legislation was bcked in congress by the republicans using either the filibuster or threat of a filibuster. even the stimulus, remember, it only passed because they had 60 votes. >> rose: why aren't liberals yup set then? if you make the case that he has not done only as expected but also very well in terms of his achievements. >> i think liberals have a hard time holding on the power and being comfortable with power and the comprome sbiled with power. this is the case arthur schlesinger was making vis-a-vis the liberals with truman back in the '40s. i think it's in the liberal sighky. but liberals turn against every single democratic president with regularity. that was who what the whole nader campaign was about, this fury that clinton was a sellout. w we've had a president who's been vastly more successful in advancing the liberal agenda
through congress and you have liberals angry again. now, carter, i think, was a genuine failure. johnson was massively successful on the domestic front but you had vietnam. but the anger at obama to me is just sort of baffling. >> rose: is it also baffling he might have done more? is that a baffling question, that he could have done better? yes, he had a difficult congress to deal with but if he had a different set of skills and was less of aconciliator he might have achieved more? that's the question that drew raises. >> i don't think that's right. he only had four months in which he he had 60 votes in the senate. other than that period, republicans were committed to blocking his entire legislation no matter what, pretty much even if it included ideas that they had once endorsed. the president has very limited tools at his disposal. the president may have had somewhat greater tools in the past when they had pork which theysed to some extent. there were some levers, but they aren't very strong. >> rose: drew? >> well, i will say have more
empathy for the president now after feeling like what it' like to have a filibuster proof supermajority of two against one. (laughter) but, you know, if you look back in the bush administration, president bush never had the size of the senate behind him that president obama had when he walked into office and that he then had three months later. and president bush pushed through one piece of legislation after another, practically the only thing that man couldn't get through despite the fact that most of it was... most of us think it was pretty wrong headed-- including creating the deficits that have tied president obama's hands which the president never mentied in his first year of office which i think was a colossal messaging failure. putting that aside for a second, president bush got through no child left behind, he got through tax cuts that were heavily weighted towards the wealthy. he got through an unfunde
medicare plan that gave lots of money to big pharma. he got through an understood funded iraq war, an understood funded afghanistan war and where was the screaming about the deficit then? where was the screaming about the filibuster then? i mean, the reality is that the democrats by january of 2009 when they could have changed the rules in the senate chose not to change the rules very much in the senate about the filibuster. they knew who they were dealing with. barack obama certainly knew who was dealing with after the first couple of times of banging his head against the wall and realizing wait a minute, these are not rockefeller republicans. so why didn't they change those rules? why didn't he push them to changehose rules? >> rose: so why do you thin there is in the air this sense that obama is in trouble? there is a real questioning of his leadership. >> i think two things. the first overwhelmingly is the economy. i think that at the end of the day the economic growth numbers are the big story and, you know,
remember were predicting only a year ago that we would grow at 4% this year. we're going to grow under 2% this year. if we continue at the rate of job creation we're going, 's going to take something like seven years to get back the jobs that we frost the recession. so this is a huge economic crisis, much worse than people realize, much wors than anything we've had since the great depression. so, of course, the president who tends to get praised if the economy does well, blamed if it's going badly is going to be in trouble. i think the other part of it is part of at jonathan was saying the liberal discomfort with power and discomfort with compromise and discourt with the kind of having to make deals. but there's a third part of it. i do think obama is more centrist than drew westen, than nancy pelosi. and i think that he is more comfortable... he doesn't regard larry summers and tim geithner as people who should be locked up in jail for the sins of the 1990s. he regards them as some people
who got some judgment calls wrong and some right. >> rose: is he more professor than leader, more conciliator than fighter? >> i think sometimeseing a conciliator is being a leader, particularly in a divided country. >> do you really think, though, that what we need right now when we've got a tea party dominating the house is someone who's trying to conciliate people who you've just cede minute ago can't be conciliated. why didn't the president get held up to blackmail? he got held up to blackmail because these people don't get conciliated anhe's been conciliating the right from the start of his presidency. he conciliated by cutting the stimulus package dramatically beyond what most of the nobel prize winning economists who were advising him to do were suggesting and he got... >> and he got the results they predicted. >> rose: exactly. >> the stimulus package such as it was passed by one vote. the idea that if you had added on another $400 billion it would have sailed through, this is what he could get through. >> rose: they wanted a trillion
stimulus program but they were told they couldn't get it so they settled for what they could ge. >> i was asked by the leadership of the senate to help out along with a couple other people who go namess with wall street reform. one of the things that those of us who were helping the senate adership on that said was, look look, do what the republicans did to you: call votes. if you've got 59, call a vote and make it... everyday you come right ba and you say, look, we've got us votin for main street, we've got them voting for wall strt. harry reid did that, i think, three days in a row and the 60th vote was there. that was what could have been done with the stimulus but was not done. and, in fact, at that point the president had 80% popularity of the american people. he had an american people who were behind him. he had 57 sure votes in the senate, he had an overwhelming majority in the house. that's the time when, in fact, you do what... i mean, i never
thought i'd say anything good about george w. bush but you do what george bush did and what ronald reagan did which is... and what... which is that you go over the heads of members of congress who are, in fact... and you say to susan collins and you say to olympia snowe, listen, the story is that 750,000 people a month are losing their jobs right now. i want to show you. this is a picture of a little girl who just lost the room in her house that was taken away from her. if you're going to vote against this stimulus package, i'm going to make sure that whenwe get 58 votes or 59 votes tomorrow, the american people are going to hear about why it is that they're still losing 750,000 jobs a month. and i'll bet you it would have taken three votes that he would have gotten the stimulus package he wanted. >> rose: the "washington post" today said the president's strategy, democrats nervous about 2012, want obama to be bolder. this is karen timilty and peter
wallston. president obama's reelecti on the line, democrats are increasingly angst about what they see as his failure to advance a coherent and muscular strategy for addressing the nation's economic ills. >> i'm not going to get into the what-ifs of a professor who has never run for dogcatcher advising one of the most skillful politicians in the country on how he should have handled this. it's a... >> rose: the former would be you and the ladder would be president obama? >> exactly. the whole idea that all of us who've never run for anything can brilliantly explain how to maneuver another $400 billion through the senate, you know, maybe. maybe. but i will say perhaps th largest problem here that maybe we would all agree with is it isn't clear what you can do. you're facing a very serious economic crisis. i think there should have been more stilus though i have to confess i'm not sure i would have argued that at the time.
i always thought tax cuts were a stupid idea and argued against them. i thk we should do more now. but ultimately this is a very deep jobs crisis. this is a very deep... it's happening because of globalization. it's happening because of technological change that is causing companies to be much more productive. it's happening because of a degradation of skills in the work forcebecause of a huge deverang that' taking place that's making all businesses less risk-seeking. and, you know, are we so sure that throwing $2 trillion at this problem is going to solve it? there isn't a lot of evidence that that's... the stimulus can be a bridge until the private sector works off some of its debt and starts hiring again. but that's the key and it's not clear that's happening yet. so i'm also a little uncomfortable with people who have facile answers if only he would have waved his magic wand. >> rose: i don't think anybody's arguing there's a magic speech
to be made. i think people can make a legitimate question whichis did this president exhibit the kind of skills that he may or may not have that would have produced a different result at various stages in his presidency? it had to do with leadership skills. >> my point, charlie, is a different result where? a different result in his popularity ratings? i don't know. i'm not that kind of a... >> rose: a different result in achievements. >> in the employment rate. what i'm saying is i don't know that we have a sure-fire path to actually getting the unemployment numbers down. >> rose: but should this president be judged in terms of the number of jobs, what their unemployment separate at election time? >> he will inevitably be judged by that. i just mean the policies that have worked in the past. ken rogoff on your program among others has pointed out we're in something different. it's a great contraction, it's a deleveraging cycle, it's not clear traditional policy tools
work as well as they used to. >> rose: i want to close with this which i remember the story of lyndon johnson talking to sam rayburn. jonathan, i know you've heard the story. lyndon johnson talking to sam rayburn and sam rayburn was saying... lyndon was saying he'd been to his first cabinet meeting and he met robert mcnara and he went to sam rayburn and said "the smartest one there is the guy with the comb in his hair. he's smart." and sam rayburn said "i just one time wish he had run for dogcatcher." so politics matter and the capacity to understand where america is and how you can influence america and move it. but that's also what we expect from our best presidents, the pacity to use leadership to bring the people to demand policy reversals and policy change. i'll leave it at that. thank you. >> i was going to say, charlie, that what i've learned from this aside from some really, really art analysis by smart speak that i'm going to have to run for dog catch sore fareed n never accuse me again of being a professor who's never run for
dogcatcher. >> i was trying to put anymore the company of sam rayburn when i hold that story. >> i areciate that! >> rose: thank you. pleasure. back in a moment. stay with us. we'll talk about something very different but maybe the same-- shakespeare. stay with us. >> rose: michael boyd is here. inform 2003 he became the artistic director of the royal shakespeare company. he has since brought prestige back to the r.s.c. he's cleared his $4.4 million debt and this april marked the company's 50th anniversary. it also marked the official opening of the company's much-anticipated new theater. this sumpter r.s.c. is performing a series of plays at new york's park avenue armory. they're being performed on a replica of the r.s.c.'s new theater that was shipped over from great britain. i'm pleased to have michael boyd back at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: has this... tell me about why you wanted to do this at the armory and how you
measure what is meant to this city as a culture happening. >> it started in 2008 when we were just completin a complete cycle of shakespeare's history plays in london and very late in the day we started trying to plot bringing that over to new york. in fact, we modeled up a version of our theater in the beacon on broadway, the old beacon theater we left it too late and then we started planning for the future. we realized this was such a monstrous undertaking we had to think of it years ahead. so it's not until now that we've pull it off. when we arrived with our kit with our 950 seat theater, we were nervous. would it go up in the time we had available?
would people come in snaug and i was sharing that with the people at the armory, sharing it with the lincoln center first of all and sharing the joy when it went around the block. >> rose: so it's "as you like it "romeo and juliet," kink lear, "a winter's tale" and "julius caesar." >> and comedy of errors and hamlet for kids from hard-to-reach schools, young kids who would never have been to shakespeare before in their lives. we've been performing alongside the main repertoire. and that's in some way been some of the most delightful performances, seeing the ds just totally empowered. this thing that was for them... they weren't smart enough to study it and they thought it would probably be too difficult and too boring.
and they realized they could get ownership of this. quite status cultural thing. these little kids who were not great academic achievers suddenly taking ownership of william shakespeare. brilliant. >> rose: gd for you. so what it does, it gives them motivation. >> yeah. >> rose: to explore. >> wl, it makes... what our experience is it makes them better at maths. once they get cocky about shakespeare, they can conquer calculus, you know? >> sure. >> rose:. >> rose: things that seem hard and far away are not if you apply yourself. >> yeah, if you apply yourself and if you're allowed to do it as opposed to stare at 17th century english on a page and be bemused by it. if you're actually given the role of lady macbeth and not murder of a king, that is suddenly really exciting and you get it. you get it when you do it. >> rose: so when is your earliest memory? >> memory... >> rose: of shakes here? >> my earliest memory is... my
earlie memory is a classics illustrated daisuke-style comic of hamlet with ju about the enti text in a comic book in the original... not modernized or anything in speec bubble comic strip form and it was fantastic. and i s eight. and it scared me. as i remember it... i could sort of rvert this a bit because somebody very kindly found it for me and got it for me when i was about 50, i think, as a birthday present. but i... what i remember is being genuinely impressed by the got thick ghost, i quite fancied ophelia. she was quite glamorous and i remember hamlet being tremendously dashing and not a
vacillating, weak man in love with his mother. and it's very influential on my interpretation of hamlet is this d.c.-style comic. and then the next memory was a group of players coming to the school i was at performing an okay "her haven't of venice" which felt a bit old-fashioned and i wasn't mad about it. certainly not convted. then my third was production of o they will low that i took my first girlfriend to d i remember desdemona's cleavage and my hand on my girlfriend's knee. >> rose: and why not? so when u go see a production, though, with all the experience you've had of a hamlet what are you looking for? >> honey, simplicity, of course i'm looking for virtuosity, people flying. i'm looking for... with hamlet
i'm looking for real insight into a very oppressive world. claudius' world. claudius has ripped this kingdom from out of hamlet... older hamlet's hands and he runs it like a very gentle manly police state. so i'm looking for honestly the: i saw an awful lot of very good interpretations of ham threat eastern europe under soviet rule i think in many ways they understood it better. >> rose: very good point. >> during the '70s, 80s. i'm looking for in the title role someone playing it they have to be both steel and gossamer at the same time. steel in their resolution and gossamer in being one of the best bits of tracing paper for what it's like to be alive, you can imagine.
the world priing itself on em. and through them you can identify with w the very appalling circumstances that they're in and make you brar when you face something like it. >> rose: what's the be "hamlet" you ever saw? >> i think the best "hamlet" i ever saw was... i only saw about one line of it. we did a beautiful, beautiful thing when we closed down the old r.s.t. we brought back about 50 of our fondest alums and ham was split. there were about six people playing hamlet and one of... it started with david warner who played it first in the '60s and it moved through lots of nderful, wonderful
interpreters and one of whom was mark rye lann and mark just stood up... everyone else was doing really well and it was beautiful to be or not to be but mark stood up and in your opinion the moment with him and you were slightly worried thinking he's sort of forgotten maybe where he is and maybe he's forgotten which bit of the speech he's to play. but it was because he had a sort of startled in-the-moment quality about him that was astonishing. he's very gifted. >> rose: how old is he? >> mark. around about... coming up to 50. around about that, i think. >> rose: how old should hamlet be, the actor? >> he should probably be a lot younger than that. >> rose: how did you choose the ones you chose here? "as you like it" "romeo and
juliet," "king lear..." why did you choose. not how but why? >> a mixture of motivations, first of all, the actors that we wanted to be in the company. who would be good at this? who would be good at that? >> when you created the royal shakespeare company that you created and you built the new theater you also insisted on having an ensemble group that would be there for at least three years. they had to make a commitment for three years? >> yeah. and this is the second experiment with that. the first was the history cycle. >> rose: you did the complete works or something? >> that was part of the complete works. but there was a company that sat for three years in t complete works first of all finishing in 2008. it was tricky because nothing like this has been done for a very long time. and it was in some way the easier putti this company
together and in some ways harder. it was easier because of the success of the history cycle. a lot of people who said no to the history said yes to this. but it was more difficult because i decided i was not going to direct eight plays in a row again which i did for the history cycle. so i was going to bri in the most challenging and talented and exciting young directors i could. and of course they brought their own ideas about casting. so there's a bit of horse trading going on. and what we've ended up with a wonderful company with physical theater in the avont guard and they teach each other. it's wonderful. and along the way we chose the repertoire as the directors and the actors emerged. and it's been tailored around them, really. my = company wld probably ultimately... my most highly
evolved form of what we're attempting to do would be that the company chose the directors. they would hire me rather than the other way around, almost. >> the actors would hire you? >> yeah. which is a paradox. one of the reasons i became a director was because i couldn't bear waiting for the phone call about my highest ambition is to create an ebb semi-able that doesn't thank me. >> rose: (laughs) do you ask yourself how could one writer no so much, be so much, be so good, be enduring? >> yes. >> rose: what is your answer?
>> the enduring bit is maybe the easiest to answer, i think. i think the reason shakespeare's alive is at the heart of his d.n.a. is "to be or not to be." and i don't mean about mortality. i mean about the opposition of one idea and another. the antithesis is the technical trade term for it. and his greatift and his great gift of survival in difficult times as a writer was not to resolve that antithesis, just to present appalling dilemmas to us without resolving them and fusing to slip into an essay writer's conclusion or judgment. and that means these two beasts he sets up in every sense, every play, colliding with each
more keen to tell the audience what to think. shakespeare demanded we give it serious thugt and he was greatly gifted in luring it to that place where we felt empowered to give it serious thought. >> rose: so because there was no resolution or easy answer... >> i think that... >> rose: the magic was... >> that is a major part of it. the fight within his plays still goes on. it'sike a bag of rats when you open it they're still wriggling today. that's why he's endured. how he cam to know to be able to embrace so much, he lived again, there's a duality about this he came from basically the country. from not a very privileged
circumstance. he ended up amongst the very, very powerful. he had a rounded view of life. i just spent four days in wyoming and, my god, that's a a different world from new york. >> rose: yes. >> shakespeare knew wyoming and new york. he understood both. how many figures really straddle wyoming and new york: it's almost sthaern sexually, too, he was divided... a divided self. he loved women and men as well. and i think living between those two worlds he couldn't... of stratford and london. he accumulated a lot. he was caught between a protestant world that he lived
in and the catholic inheritance of the whole of britain and england. so he was divided again there. he knew two worlds again there. and, again, the traffic in his mind in his soul and spirit between those two worlds was constantly restless, constantly gathering attempts to understand it himself, i think. there therefore accumulating a wider world view and leaving it of its time, local, dated, in the past. >> and the simple... that forms the sense of what he wants to put into the play and the command of language? >> again, i would be tempted to talk about two languages the anglo sackson of the country looking back towards not just
catholicism but paganism and the language of the times, the court of power. linguistically he brought these together as well so that in the late 17th and 18th centuries they thought shakespeare rather crude and in the 19th century certainly in britain they ed ted his plays to the bone because they were regarded as too obscene. even earlier than that he was regarded as classical form, like that
english language itself. it's infuriatingly full of exceptions. just when you think his lyricism has mud in it, therefore it's enduring and not sentimental. it can be sentimentalized b bad production bus it's not sentimental i always get twitchy when i hear people talking about shakespeare as the bard because it makes me fear that someone is going to start spouting him like it's poetry from out of thin air it comes out of the ground. >> rose: it always does. it's not magic somewhere. >> he's a glover's son. >> rose: are the work of a laborer. >> for which he got patronized in london a great. an upstart crow, he was called. >> i want to have clips here. i want to go to the second one and have you talk about that one
scene, if they can roll tape, tell me about it. lovele from love toward school with heavy look. rome.. oh, for a falconer's voice bondage is horse and may not speak aloud. else would i tear the cave where echo lies and make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine with repetition of my romeo. >> it is my soul calls out my name. how silver sweet sound lovers' tongues by night like softest music to attending ears. >> romeo! >> my dear? >> what o'clock tomorrow shall i send to snooe >> by the hour of nine. >> it will not fail.
technical assistance 20 years till then. i have forgot why i did call thee back. >> let me stand here till thou remember it. the >> i shall forget to have thee still stand there, remembering how i love thy company. >> and i still stay to have thee still forget, forgetting any other home but this. >> rose: it'sgood idea if you havereat theater to somehow make it available after its first run at whatever theater. to a wid audiee. and especially the kind of platforms we have today for so many peoplaround the world to see and be influenced by genius. a playwright, a director, an actor and an audience as you were pointing out. >> i think it's great. i think great things have been
done by capturing theater performances and broadcasting them. either live or recorded. as long as... my only fear is that you... that theater becomes remote again from its audience. the single greatest gift that theater brings-- and it's a very important gift right now-- is people sitting in the same room through retime sharing the same space sharing in shakespeare's case, the greatest emotions, e biggest ideas, what it's like to fall in love. what it's like to have the dreams of angels but know that you're going die. that's theater's unique gift. the means of deduction are there with you, the audience.
you're not 6,000 miles away from where that movie wasmade. you here that with it. it's honest, it's authentic. and the danger with video capture of theer is not only that it can seem hollow and empty without the conspiracy of audien but that you're beginning to distance yourself again from your honest and intimate connection with your audience. >> rose: i thank you, a pleasure to have you on the broadcast, a labor of love for me. thank you very much. pleasure. >> lovely to see you. and certainly i will give thought to your shakespeare series. >> michael boyd, the royal shakespeare company, the director hereby in new yorat the armory for a series of plays that introduce shakespeare in a dramatic and wonderful way because the presentation is done in a kind of replica of the theater that are has just been